COVID Communication: How important is GMB?

Posted on November 20, 2020 | 2020 Client Communication Engagement Reach Tips
Eric Bronson

Utilizing GMB for Communication during COVID

There has been a lot of disruption to regular business operations and there will likely be more to come, which is why it’s critical for your business to communicate effectively with your customers through all channels. Google My Business is one that cannot be ignored.

 

How important is Google My Business?

Commonly overlooked as a valuable asset for most businesses, Google My Business provides a powerful communication spot in search engine results. In 2020, Google has launched several new features (and brought back some old ones) which are an invaluable asset to getting your potential customers the right information. Plus, as people continue to use Google Maps as a form of search, your GMB is your first impression.

Google My Business is an invaluable resource for your business in creating domain authority and supporting local search. The knowledge panel on Google search results is also the primary resource tab of information for all mobile users. Including your business’ NAP (Name, Address, Phone) or service area, keeping a healthy GMB account is important if your business services a local audience. Reviews, imagery, and quick links to your phone number, website, and directions can make a valuable first impression. With nearly 55% of all Google Searches resulting in zero-click (meaning they do not enter a physical webpage), more users are relying on this quick menu to get what they need. Getting found in the zero-click space comes down to quality, relevant content mixed with a little technical SEO strategy called schema. 

Interested in nerding out for 6 minutes? Check out this Beginner’s Guide to JSON to learn how to use schema effectively for your business, service, or product.

Also, as Google Maps uses your GMB information to provide search results and company details, each physical address for your business needs a unique GMB account. If you are a multi-location business, each one of these GMB profiles provides additional authority for Local SEO. Building these under one universal account and applying a variety of more technical SEO tactics, you can build a dominant presence for your brand in Google.

Buhv Designs Denver GMB Listing

Why is it important to update your GMB?

The first page during most Google searches will be filled with lots of information other than a list of relevant websites.

Exercise: do a search for your business name, what percentage of Google search real estate do you own? Is the page filled with paid ads above your name? Might be time to consider digital paid ads yourself.

Next, do a search for your primary keywords that you want to rank for. Do you see more ads, a Google Knowledge Panel, product displays, ‘People Also Asked’ boxes? Has your website been optimized to show here? Remember, over half of all searches will never enter a website and these resources are becoming more common. 

Having a high-quality, relevant, and up-to-date GMB account can be your first step in owning the search real estate for your brand. This is even more essential for mobile users where this information will fill their entire screen.

Mobile SEO - Buhv GMB Listing Screenshot

Why is it important to keep your GMB up to date during COVID?

There is no doubt that for most business owners, there have been many changes over the past 8 months. From adjusting service hours, service offerings and operations, making sure customers know you have outdoor dining, offering contact-free services, or other pertinent information is essential. Even today, there are many restaurants who are offering patio dining but still have their GMB account marked with {X Dine-in}.

Google has released a wide variety of new features during the Coronavirus shutdowns to expand the amount of information you can share with your customers. Best yet, you can update them all yourself.

Important Social Tip:

Similar to Facebook, you can post updates to your GMB listing to let people know what is happening with your business. You can post outdoor dining shots, boards of daily specials, or just simple text updates to let people know during COVID. Information updates to your GMB profile may not be instantaneous as they must go through Google for review, however, posts to your GMB do not have to be reviewed and provide immediate updates to your customers.

But don’t overlook this time with your social media marketing, make sure people are not forgetting who you are.

New Ways to Optimize your GMB in 2020

*Please note that options may vary depending on your Business Category

 

Updated Business Hours

Users now have the availability to list hours for particular services that are important to your business. 

  • Senior only hours
  • Delivery hours
  • Pickup/curb-side hours
  • Drive-thru access hours
  • Kitchen hours
  • Happy hours/Brunch
  • Takeout hours

Website Links

Businesses in some medical fields can now add two new URL types: COVID-19 Info link and Virtual Care link. The COVID-19 Info link should link to a page on your website detailing updates and new procedures for COVID-19. The Virtual Care link should link to a page with information about telehealth or a virtual appointment booking system. Need help getting these pages built? Buhv can help.

 

Support Links

Reach out to your most loyal customers through the options of gift cards or donations. These new support links offer you those upfront opportunities to see who are your biggest fans. You may be surprised by the love you get.

 

Business Attributes

Google has brought on a variety of new business attribute links that can help you share what information people are most interested in.

  • Online appointments/care
  • Onsite service
  • Curbside pickup
  • Delivery
  • In-store pickup/shopping
  • Same-day delivery

Description

Add the most information at the top of your business description regarding the status of your business. The first 250 characters of the business description are previewed in the Business Profile, make them count. Be sure to grab their attention right away!

 

Category

Review your categories to see if there’s one that’s more relevant to set as the primary category right now, this may open more features. If you are a restaurant and pickup only, consider readjusting your category to “takeout” for better keyword relevance as well.

Here is a list of the available business categories.

 

Questions and Answers

Google recently brought back the Q&A section and can be super helpful for more long-form questions.

  • Closures and changes to hours
  • Canceled events and ticket refunds/exchanges
  • Expected delays based on calls/emails volume
  • Changes to standard expected procedure
  • How you’re increasing health and safety measures
  • Adjustments to services offered

Additional GMB Tips to Remember

Contact Number

In the case that you’ve had to close your doors and don’t have a messaging system or the ability to forward calls during this time, add a new primary contact number in the interim (like your cell number) and put your regular phone number as a secondary number.

Tip: If you have a store messaging system don’t forget to update it with your new hours and major detail updates. Don’t forget that any update you make to your listing, also update your website contact page with the same information.

 

Google Posts

The COVID-19 Post type now has an extended 28-day lifetime or the normal 7-days. This post type includes a text field and the standard call-to-action button options but does not allow for an accompanying image. The COVID-19 post displays prominently in the Business Profile under the heading “COVID-19 updates from the business”. 

Common Questions

Here are some examples of FAQ you can answer for your customers:

General

  1. Are you still operating as usual?
  2. What health and safety measures are in place?
  3. How are you keeping your office clean and employees healthy?
  4. When can I expect my call/email to be returned

Appointment-based businesses (Dental, Paramedical, Legal)

  1. I have an upcoming appointment, what do I need to do to prepare for it?
  2. Can I still come to my scheduled appointment?
  3. Can I reschedule my appointment online/on the phone?

Entertainment Venues/Attractions

  1. What events are being postponed or canceled?
  2. Will my ticket be refunded for the canceled event?

Tip: Don’t forget to get 3 upvotes on your most important question so it shows up in your Business Profile when someone searches for your brand directly.

COVID Time Final Thoughts

Google has also provided this very helpful walkthrough if you need some guidance on how to update your profile.

If you’re not sure where to begin with your GMB listing, check out our 9 step guide to optimizing your GMB. There are also several Google resources that you can check out which may be helpful if your business is struggling to stay afloat. 

If you need help managing your GMB listing beyond this free resource, we have an awesome team of experts that are available to support you. BUHV is always here for free no-obligation consultations, schedule time to meet with us today. 

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